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Former Officials Assess The U.S. Exit From Afghanistan

Hundreds of people gather near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane at the perimeter of the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. On Monday, the U.S. military and officials focus was on Kabul's airport, where thousands of Afghans trapped by the sudden Taliban takeover rushed the tarmac and clung to U.S. military planes deployed to fly out staffers of the U.S. Embassy, which shut down Sunday, and others. (Shekib Rahmani/AP)
Hundreds of people gather near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane at the perimeter of the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. On Monday, the U.S. military and officials focus was on Kabul's airport, where thousands of Afghans trapped by the sudden Taliban takeover rushed the tarmac and clung to U.S. military planes deployed to fly out staffers of the U.S. Embassy, which shut down Sunday, and others. (Shekib Rahmani/AP)

President Joe Biden promised the nation last month a smooth withdrawal from Afghanistan. On Monday, he acknowledged the chaos that’s come instead.

“The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we anticipated,” President Biden said.

A former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan says Biden’s overseeing a catastrophe.

“We basically are handing the country over to those who sheltered the Al Qaeda planners who put the whole thing together for 9/11,” Ryan Crocker says. “So we’re watching history repeat in a very, very bad way.”

A former Pentagon official says Biden recognized reality and made the tough, but necessary choice:

“The president has a wealth of critics in light of the horrific images we’re seeing in Afghanistan,” Daniel Silverberg says. “However, I’m not convinced that this situation was avoidable, nor am I convinced that it was the wrong decision.”

Today, On Point: What would an orderly U.S. withdrawal have looked like? And was that ever possible?

Guests

Ryan Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan in 2011 and 2012.

Daniel Silverberg, former national security advisor to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Managing Director at the regulatory advisory firm Capstone. (@DSilverbergDC)

Also Featured

Khaled Hosseini, author of several books including “The Kite Runner” and “Sea Prayer.” Founder of The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a nonprofit that provides humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan. (@khaledhosseini)

From The Reading List

The Atlantic: “Biden Was Right” — “In 2017, I arrived at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport as part of a congressional staff delegation. Even though the U.S. embassy stood a mere four miles away, safety concerns necessitated our helicoptering from a recently constructed multimillion-dollar transit facility instead of traveling by road. As we flew over Kabul, I realized that the Afghan security forces, backed by thousands of U.S. personnel, could not even secure the heart of Afghanistan’s capital.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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